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RealTime Economic Issues Watch

In RealTime posts, PIIE senior staff and colleagues discuss the fast-moving economic news, financial developments, and public policy choices confronting the United States and the world.

Recent Posts

The Pacific Alliance and Mercosur: Narrowing the Gap?

by | November 24th, 2014 | 12:19 pm

On November 24, 2014, Chile’s president, Michele Bachelet, will host a meeting between the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur trading blocs. The aim of the meeting is to explore ways to increase trade ties between the blocs. The unstated aim is to send a political signal that relations are well between the two and that the […]

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What a Ukrainian Financial Meltdown Might Look Like

by | November 21st, 2014 | 02:57 pm

On top of all its other problems, Ukraine is at risk of a financial meltdown. A question remains, however: What form would it take? Presumably it would be reminiscent of the Russian financial crash of August 1998—with default, high inflation, a frozen banking system, falling output, and panic. The three critical factors at play in […]

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Are Russia’s Usable Reserves Running Dangerously Low?

by | November 20th, 2014 | 04:21 pm

Russia is heading toward a serious financial squeeze next year, despite the confident statements of President Vladimir Putin. The official figures accounting for Russia’s international reserves show a dramatic decline in international reserves, but an examination of the numbers reveals that the situation is far worse than the Kremlin says, raising serious questions about the […]

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Double Win for the Trade Liberalization in Bali

by | November 19th, 2014 | 03:26 pm

Two recent developments have the trade world buzzing and for good reason: the US-China agreement on tariff liberalization as part of the expanded Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and the US-India resolution to the impasse over the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). These two agreements, along with the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) under negotiation by 22 […]

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The New Ukrainian Government Must Save the Country

by | November 19th, 2014 | 09:51 am

Ukraine is in a vicious financial crisis. Threatened constantly by Russian military aggression, the country faces a financial meltdown within the next four months. At the end of October, its international reserves fell to $12.6 billion, below the threshold considered critical for solvency. The hryvnia exchange rate is falling exponentially. As a consequence, most of […]

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IMF Governance Reform: Unfinished Business for the 113th Congress

by | November 12th, 2014 | 12:19 pm

US senators and representatives return to Washington on November 12 to complete the urgent unfinished business of the 113th Congress. They have a lot unfinished, and very high on that list for both the administration and the Congress should be approval of the 2010 International Monetary Fund (IMF) governance reform package. The administration has signaled […]

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The European Union’s Cap on Banker Bonuses Is a Good Idea

by | November 6th, 2014 | 02:36 pm

Recently, Andrew Bailey, chief executive officer of the UK Prudential Regulatory Authority, came out against the European Union’s cap on banker bonuses. The timing of his comments was odd. They undermined the European Banking Authority’s new clampdown on banks’ use of allowances to get around the cap. His comments also came at a time when […]

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The 2014 EU-Wide Bank Stress Test Lacks Credibility

by | November 5th, 2014 | 09:25 am

On October 26, 2014, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Banking Authority (EBA) released the results of the latest EU-wide stress test and the accompanying asset quality review (AQR).1 The 2014 stress test encompasses four key findings: (1) the aggregate capital shortfall for the 123 banks participating in the test is €24.6 billion; […]

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Will a Republican Senate Be Good for Trade?

by | November 3rd, 2014 | 05:35 pm

If voters give the GOP control of the Senate on November 4, as many polls suggest, the prospects of approving Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, or “fast track”), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are likely to improve. There are four reasons for this assessment. First, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) […]

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Whither Europe’s Banks after the Stress Test?

by | October 29th, 2014 | 05:35 pm

The new comprehensive assessement of the European banking sector—including the “stress tests” of banks—was released in late October and made headlines by highlighting progress toward solvency and health in the banking system. But the tests also underscored concerns that many banks will need more capital and a more profitable business model to survive in the […]

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